Baiana nostri villa, Basse, Faustini
non otiosis ordinata myrtetis
viduaque platano tonsilique buxeto
ingrata lati spatia detinet eampi,
sed rure vero barbaroque laetatur.
hic farta premitur angulo Ceres omni
et multa fragrat testa senibus autumnis;
hic post Novembres imminente iam bruma
seras putator horridus refert uvas.
truces in alta valle mugiunt tauri
vitulusque inermi fronte prurit in pugnam.
vagatur omnis turba sordidae chortis,
argutus anser gemmeique pavones
nomenque debet quae rubentibus pinnis
et picta perdix Numidicaeque guttatae
et impiorum phasiana Colchorum;
Rhodias superbi feminas premunt galli;
sonantque turres plausibus columbarum,
gemit hinc palumbus, inde cereus turtur.
avidi secuntur vilicae sinum porci
matremque plenam mollis agnus expectat.
cingunt serenum laetei focum vernae
et larga festos lucet ad lares silva.
non segnis albo pallet otio copo,
nec perdit oleum lubricus palaestrita,
sed tendit avidis rete subdolum turdis
tremulave captum linea trahit piscem
aut impeditam cassibus refert dammam.
exercet hilares facilis hortus urbanos,
et paedagogo non iubente lascivi
parere gaudent vilico capillati,
et delicatus opere fruitur eunuchus.
nec venit inanis rusticus salutator:
fert ille ceris cana cum suis mella
metamque lactis Sassinate de silva;
somniculosos ille porrigit glires,
hic vagientem matris hispidae fetum,
alius coactos non amare capones.
et dona matrum vimine offerunt texto
grandes proborum virgines colonorum.
facto vocatur laetus opere vicinus;
nec avara servat crastinas dapes mensa,
vescuntur omnes ebrioque non novit
satur minister invidere convivae.
at tu sub urbe possides famem mundam
et turre ab alta prospicis meras laurus,
furem Priapo non timente securus;
et vinitorem farre pascis urbano
pictamque portas otiosus ad villam
holus, ova, pullos, poma, caseum, mustum.
rus hoc vocari debet, an domus longe?
(Martial, Ep. 3.58)
Our friend Faustinus’ Baian villa, Bassus, does not hold down unprofitable expanses of broad acreage laid out in idle myrtle plantations, unwed planes, and clipped boxwood, but rejoices in the true, rough countryside. Corn is tightly crammed in every corner and many a wine jar is fragrant with ancient vintages. Here, when Novembers are past and winter soon to come, the rugged pruner brings home the tardy grapes. Fierce bulls bellow in the deep valley and the calf with his harmless brow itches for combat. All the crew of the dirty poultry yard wander around, the cackling goose and the spangled peacocks, the bird that owes its name to its ruddy plumage, the painted partridge, the speckled guinea fowl, and the pheasant of the wicked Colchians. Proud cockerels press their Rhodian wives and the cotes are loud with the flappings of doves. Here moans the wood pigeon, there the waxen-hued turtle. The greedy pigs follow the apron of the bailiff’s wife and the soft lamb waits for his well-filled dam. The infant children of the farm ring a bright hearth and on holidays wood in plenty flames before its gods. There’s no lazy taverner, whey-faced from pallid ease, nor does the slippery wrestling-coach waste oil, no, he spreads a sly net for greedy thrushes or draws in a captured fish with quivering line or brings home a doe caught in the toils. The bounteous kitchen garden gives the cheerful town slaves exercise; the frolicsome long-haired youths, with no supervisor to give them orders, are happy to obey the bailiff, and the pampered eunuch works with a will. Nor does the country caller come empty-handed. He brings pale honey with its comb and a cone of milk from the woods of Sassina; one proffers drowsy dormice, another the bleating offspring of a hairy dam, a third capons, forced to be loveless. Strapping daughters of honest tenant farmers present their mothers’ gifts in wicker baskets. When work is done, a happy neighbor is asked over. Nor does a greedy table keep back victuals for tomorrow; there is food for all, and the sated servant never envies the tipsy diner. But you have a property near Rome, all elegance and starvation. From a high tower you look out over nothing hut laurel hushes, and your mind is at ease, for your Priapus fears no thief. You feed your vineyard workers with town flour and in time of leisure transport vegetables, eggs, chickens, apples, cheese, must to your painted villa. Should this be called a place in the country or a townhouse out of town? (tr. David Roy Shackleton-Bailey)